AZ Dad and Young Daughter Encounter Crazed Hero

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In a post going viral on Facebook, Ken Walton describes being arrested at gunpoint by an Arizona Highway Patrol officer who threatened to shoot him in the back in front of his 7-year-old daughter.

Here’s what Ken says happened:

My daughter and I are from San Francisco, on vacation, traveling through the Southwest. Today we were driving from Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon in a Toyota Camry we’d rented from Fox Car Rental in Las Vegas. In Williams, Arizona, as I exited Interstate 40 to head north toward the Canyon rim, I was pulled over by an AHP officer who’d been tailing me for a couple of miles. I hadn’t been speeding, so I wondered if perhaps the car had a broken taillight or something. I rolled down my window and waited.

Suddenly, the officer rapped on the rear passenger side window with his pistol. My daughter, who was sitting inches from the barrel of his gun, jumped with fear as the officer yelled at me to roll down the front passenger window, his service weapon pointed directly at me. I knew something was terribly awry and I tried to remain calm, keeping my hands visible as I slowly fumbled for the window controls in an unfamiliar car. My daughter rolled down her window and I explained that we were in a rental car, that we had no weapons, and I was having trouble figuring out how to roll down the front passenger window from my driver’s side door. The officer didn’t listen, and kept yelling louder and more insistently, ordering me to comply with his request as he leered at me down the barrel of his pistol. My daughter panicked and tried to get out of her booster seat to reach forward to roll down the front window, and the officer screamed at her not to move as he pointed his pistol at her.

Somehow I was able to get the window down, and then the officer ordered me to exit the car with my hands up. I did so slowly and with my hands raised as high in the air as possible, and as he came around to the driver’s side of the car he screamed at me to face away from him, as if I were doing something wrong. (I didn’t know this was the protocol for being arrested at gunpoint.) Then, as I had my hands in the air, he yelled, at the top of his lungs, in a voice I will never forget, as my daughter looked on in terror, “Get your hands away from your waist or I’ll blow two holes through your back right now!” My hands were high in the air as he said this, and I was not in any way reaching for my waist. I was utterly terrified. I’ve heard stories of police yelling out false things like this before they unjustifiably attack someone as a way to justify the attack, and I thought this was what was happening to me. I braced for bullets to hit me and all I could think of was my daughter having to watch it happen and being left alone on the side of the highway with an insane, violent cop.

The bullets didn’t arrive, though. I followed every order of the officer as slowly and deliberately as I could, very slowly backed toward him, got to my knees, was placed in handcuffs, and was thrown inside the back of his car. By this time many more officers had arrived, and I could see a couple of them talking to my daughter.

Why was I arrested? The car I had rented had previously had its front license plate lost or stolen, so the car rental company reported this to the Nevada DMV. The Arizona Highway Patrol officer, who looked up my plate number while he was tailing me, misinterpreted this Nevada DMV report as meaning that I was driving a car with a stolen license plate, and somehow this prompted him to approach me at gunpoint and threaten to kill me in front of my little girl.

After a few minutes he released me from the handcuffs, and since I knew the truth, I called him out for over-reacting, and told him he had no reason to threaten to shoot me. He stood by his story that I had made a threatening movement toward my waist, and I said it wasn’t true, and he said this wasn’t the place to discuss it. He let me go attend to my daughter, but continued to “detain” us for another 20 minutes as he talked to his supervisors, presumably plotting damage control.

I got his card, his supervisor’s number, the case number, and the cards of other officers on the scene. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. My daughter is traumatized. She said she wanted to cry to the officers who were comforting her, but she was afraid they would get mad at her. As we drove the final hour to our Grand Canyon hotel, she told me she was confused, because she thought the police were the good guys, and she didn’t know why the officer said he would kill me when my hands were in the air. I tried to come up with an explanation but I struggled for words.angry pig pic
If you are a person who has ever looked skeptically at the claims of Black Lives Matter, or others who talk about police violence, I urge you to consider what happened to me and put yourselves in the shoes of others. I just survived a bizarre gunpoint situation in which I was as innocent as Philando Castile, who was not as lucky as I was. We live in a society where anywhere and everyone can have a gun at any time, and police are responding with fear in dangerous ways. I got lucky tonight. My daughter and I made it to the Grand Canyon and I’m going to try to salvage what’s left of our vacation. Many others – because of the color of their skin or the way they look or because of simple bad luck – did not meet the same fate.I’m not sure why I’m writing all this down. Maybe it’s because, as I sat in that back of that police car and heard the AHP officer learn the truth from his dispatcher – that the man he’d just captured at gunpoint and threatened to murder was totally innocent – I realized it was very possible that the only reason I was alive was because I am a scrawny 48-year-old white man wearing a Micky Mouse t-shirt and cargo shorts and hiking boots. The officer that arrested me was so pumped up on adrenaline and eager to get a “bad guy” that he could barely control himself, and if I’d looked just a little bit more threatening to him – because I was black, or young, or long-haired, or tattooed, or didn’t speak English – I believe he might have pulled the trigger.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I suspect that most current LEOs are ex-military. Their training there was to kill. They so dominate the “profession” that training for non-military recruits is based on much of the training in the military. “Kill or be Killed!” (Fact or fiction, search for “Mossad training U.S. police”. Folks not known for their benevolence toward perceived “malefactors”.)

    Over the years (first encounter 1956) I have met “Good Cops” and “Bad Cops”. Several pulled me over for minor infractions, one even mistakenly, but they handled it graciously (some times with a friendly approach to “scaring the crap of the kid”, probably like beat cops used to handle kids in the cities). Others flat-out lied when I went to court with solid proof that the citation itself was illegal or that I had not committed the charged infraction. “Sorry. I have no choice but to find you guilty.” Crap! The courts are as deep into this as the LEOS.

    • Hi Arylioa,

      They have without doubt become more like – almost indistinguishable from – military. BDUs, armor, buzz cuts… “high capacity” weapons (including “assault rifles”).

      And they act the part, too. Like occupying troops… which is exactly what they are.

      Among the many reforms I advocate, one is that “serving” in the military is an automatic disqualification for employment as a civilian peace keeper.

      Military “service” is about killing other people and forcing them into submission. It is about barking orders – and demanding immediate compliance. It defines anyone not a fellow kamerad as a threat, minimally. A peon, a lesser sort. An enemy, at worst.

      These things are fundamentally incompatible with civilian peace-keeping in a free society.

      • “high capacity” weapons (including “assault rifles”).
        Yes, and these are actual assault rifles, capable of full automatic fire, not what Congress and the lamestream media characterize as ‘assault weapons’ because they look kinda like a real military weapon.
        We need to get rid of the standing army that the founders so legimately feared and back to the ‘well regulated militia’ – state based, not national – that #2 calls for.

  2. I think it’s the type of work that requires a well-rounded person. I know my rights but I always consent to anything the officer request in a traffic stop because I have to pick and choose my battles. Even the ticket itself. I don’t have the time to go to court and prove that I am innocent – so I submit and pay the extra fees for traffic school.

    • Hi CP,

      The wheel has turned for me on this issue… I do not believe it is possible for a “well rounded” person to be a law enforcer. The nature of the work requires a person who is, at the least, a morally obtuse cipher, an order-follower. Someone who doesn’t think too much about what’s right – and wrong.

      Just what “the law” is.

      The “good German” type.

      And – increasingly obvious – someone who likes to order other people around. A bully. A sadist.

      The SS type.

      Who is not merely okay with putting people who’ve done nothing to harm anyone else into a cage. Or taking their money. Or subjecting them to enforced (with implied violence) non-consensual encounters when they haven’t given any cause whatsoever to suspect they have might have violated “the law.”

      Someone who gets off on such “work.”

      That takes an asshole.

      • Interestingly, they have to score differently on the MMPI than the average population. A psychologist explained the reasoning almost identical to what you are describing – an order follower. Sad.

        Everything is a racket.

        • I’m not surprised about the MMPI…

          I know I could never be a law enforcer. I’m far from perfect, but the idea of hassling someone merely because “it’s the law” sickens me. I can’t imagine any person with empathy, who thinks, being able to do it without despising themselves.

  3. The gist of a USA Today article captures how one is really treated when trying to exercise rights with the police. Although its referring to minorities I think it also applies to persons of all colors.

    unconstitutional searches and arrests, uses excessive force, uses “enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans,” and retaliates against people practicing freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/09/justice-department-baltimore-police-regularly-violated-constitutional-rights/88489196/

    • Hi CP,

      Thanks for the link; and agreed. The fundamental problem, in my view, is “law enforcement” as opposed to keeping the peace. Law enforcers look for problems, create problems – and escalate them. They disturb the peace.

      • What a deal. His daughter gets a vacation and a civics lesson concurrently. She has a whole new take on doing the hokey-pokey and will nail it next time……or else.

          • You’ve heard of swatting right? Where some asshole calls the swat team on some unsuspecting individual hoping the swat team will kill them! It is my opinion, that doing so is attempted murder and should be prosecuted as such. Now it appears they are using bogus calls to lure pheroes to a isolated area to cap them. It appears the war is now fully engaged.

            • I’ve heard of it, first hand from the commanding officer, two weeks ago. This was a plan dreamed up by the local DA and a lying woman facing 5 counts of defying court orders including a charge of kidnapping. They’re about to get a raft of shit, DA and officers and the state.

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